My husband thinks it’s kind of weird, but still kind of cool, that I wanted to turn some old redwood floorboards into a piece of artwork.
I’m not going to say it was easy, but it was actually a completely fun process to go through. I guess when I get something in my head, I have to figure out a way to make it happen – even if that means employing cheap (free!) child labor.
From stripping the many layers of paint off this gorgeous, rich redwood to sanding it down and linking the planks together to form canvases, every step of the process was exciting and sort of unknown. We didn’t know if the layers of paint would easily come off. We didn’t know if it would look good to leave some of the old paint on the boards to add character to the piece. We didn’t know if hand-distressing painted floorboards would feel authentic or schlocky.
Now, I’m not saying this was all done completely uninformed. There was plenty of research and testing that went into the process before putting non-toxic paint stripper to wood, but overall, it definitely was a learn-as-you-go experience. I just kept referring back to what I wanted to create – it was in my head – and knew what I needed to do to make it happen.
The project started out as an idea I had after putting together this Modern Americana mood board based on the brief I got from my client, then it moved into a full-blown concept and finally, a finished piece. I stressed the details. I took my time. And I am really happy with how everything turned out. It’s so different from my other work, yet somehow fits right in.
What do you think?
See the mood board post here. And a post about the supplies shopping trip here.
Apparently buying perfume doesn’t have to suck anymore. What was once an overwhelming sensory experience in a poorly lit department store with aggressive sales people spraying fragrances at you while you attempted to dodge them and their musky weapons, can actually be quite pleasant now. But you must go to a little place filled – but not overfilled – with delicious fragrances, lotions, candles and detergents… Le Labo.
The woman who helped me find the perfect perfume (Meg, you’ll love her too) told me all about the company, the founders, the new things coming and we chatted about how cool it is that each bottle is created by hand right in the store’s “lab.” (Aptly named, of course.) Once my fragrance was mixed, Meg handed over the most perfect, simple, personalized package I’ve ever seen.
I’m a sucker for good branding and packaging, and this whole experience pretty much tops my charts. And my goodness, I can’t forget to mention how amazing this stuff smells. I suppose that’s just as important as serving it up in a cute bottle.
(I bought that fragrance with my own hard-earned pennies and wasn’t perked for writing about it.)
I love the website Project Nursery for a million reasons. They’re such an amazing resource for all things nursery and party design, plus they’ve built up an amazing community of people who support each other’s design and creative efforts! I’ve been reading the blog for years now – starting before I was pregnant with my son and have always been so impressed with their content. I’ve loved watching the site grow to be what it is today.
I finally upload my first project to the Project Gallery, and the editors chose it as one of the best of the week! I feel so honored to have been included with three other adorable nurseries and parties in their Favorites of the Week that I just wanted to share it here.
If you have a minute, click on my project page HERE and “like” it. Hopefully the Sassy Southern Baby Shower for sweet Ruby will be a fan favorite!
There are some projects that arrive in my inbox and as soon as I start to work on them, I feel a little intimidated. At that moment, I know I need to step back, take a break and reevaluate how I should approach it. The “Modern Americana” project is the perfect example of this, and I couldn’t be MORE excited to be working on it. I had to break my patterns and think about things in a completely new way, and in the end, I’m pretty sure it is going to be one of the most fun projects I’ve ever had the chance to do.
My client is a brilliant woman who is in the midst of government training before she embarks on an assignment for the U.S. State Department as a diplomat in Sri Lanka. Beyond her very impressive career, she’s also a dear friend of mine and I’m honored to have a chance to create art for her new home halfway across the world! Having familiar imagery, colors and materials will (hopefully) create a sense of “home” in an unfamiliar place.
I’ve already begun shopping for new materials for the project, and am finding the whole process completely energizing. The mood board I created will inspire the finished piece.
Since it appears to be spring in places that have seasons, that can mean only one thing. Spring Cleaning. I suppose it can also mean baseball season starting, gearing up for backyard BBQ’s and dusting off the 8 pound dumbbells to get in shape for summer. But mostly, I think it means Spring Cleaning.
Part of that is getting a fresh start on organizing your home. (Dudes, I’m terrible at this. I’ve actually had to ask for help because I’m so terrible at being organized.) But my friends over at 1000memories actually came up with something pretty cool that may help with part of the spring cleaning process. They developed a super handy (and totally free) app called Shoebox that essentially turns your smart phone into a scanner that allows you to capture images of your old photos and documents directly to your phone and their website, creating online collections of memories. What I think is actually kind of unique to this app is that you can keep all of your photos completely private, until you choose to share with specific people, or you can link it up with your Facebook timeline and share away. It’s nice to have that kind of control.
To help share how their site works, the folks at 1000memories “discovered,” then sent out a few shoeboxes to bloggers (and friends) across the country. When this gorgeous old wooden box showed up on my doorstep, I was excited to dig into the story that lived inside it.
Shoebox #9 was chock full of treasures, all of which can be seen here on 1000memories - if you click on the photos, you’ll be able to see more details about each one.
This is Milly and Frank, and the letters, photos, ticket stubs and trinkets were all part of their story as a couple. So sweet, and so interesting to be able to take a peek into their life together and watch their budding romance over the decades. Everything here was from the ’20s, ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, some pretty incredible stuff.
This photo of Milly and Frank on a dock was my favorite, which you can see more closely here.
If you’re in the midst of spring cleaning and come across an old box filled with photos and memories, I’d highly recommend Shoeboxing them. Hey, it’s a lot easier than trying to make a scrapbook and a lot more fun than letting the stuff sit inside a dark closet.
You can download Shoebox free here or directly from the iTunes store.
(Note: While the kind folks at 1000memories sent me this lovely collection of memories to explore while discovering their product, I was not compensated for writing this post. It’s 100% my opinion, which I’m always happy to share.)
Okay, so I kinda slacked on getting my second and third anniversary posts written, but I still wanted to capture a few things that I thought might be fun to recap. I also want let you guys know about what’s coming up for Senn & Sons in the coming months.
The first year of business was a huge, and massively surprising, success. To me, anyway. I painted more than 65 original triptychs, most of them custom commissions… to be honest, there are a handful of sets that still live in my studio since I’m not 100% happy with how they turned out. Call it quality control.
The blog went from 0 to 122 posts. That’s a lot, but I hope to do even more in the coming year. At first I was worried that I’d run out of things to say, but, true to my personality, that’s never been a problem.
Some of the best moments of the year were the unexpected ones. The incredible women at Sprout San Francisco started to sell my paintings, and then, happily, opened up a second store in NYC, making Senn & Sons bicoastal! Another great twist of fate was when a friend opened her own printmaking studio and gallery, and somehow still found time to teach me about screen-printing. You can definitely expect to be hearing where that heads in the coming months.
Getting the word out was also important to me, and the Birth & Baby Fair at Fort Mason here in San Francisco opened up the opportunity to meet a lot of great people. I loved being able to meet clients and others who were interested in my work face to face. Hopefully more opportunities to do that come along, even if it means meeting and talking to people through Facebook, Twitter and blog comments.
What’s to come:
So that’s the first year of business, but what’s even more exciting to look forward to the year to come. I’ve got new products up my sleeve just itching to be released into the world. Stuff that’s going to make my artwork a bit more accessible to a lot more people. I’ve found some great partners to help me make it all happen. Along with that, sennandsons.com is getting a MASSIVE redesign! I can’t wait to write more about this process, but I want to keep some things a surprise.
I gotta admit that I’m jumping-out-of-my-seat excited about what all these steps mean for me and Senn & Sons. I’ve got new designs brewing, photo shoots being planned and a seriously talented designer in Minneapolis working on my website. So, here we go on Year 2. With a little luck, there’ll be no sophomore slump for Senn & Sons.
It’s kind of fun to look at modern art with a two year old. For one thing, two year olds are VERY honest. They don’t whisper when they say things like, “I painted that, right, Mommy?” They also stop to dance when a multi-media piece has bumping house music. They’re interested, open and able to talk about the very basic elements of art – shapes and colors – and don’t hesitate to say, “I like that!”
The SFMOMA is a particularly good place for kids since they are not only welcome in the museum (without sideways glances), but are actually catered to with specific family programs and areas for kids to explore and learn about art. Every Sunday is family day and throughout the museum, sometimes right in the galleries, kids are invited to create their own art and craft projects. There are even kid-friendly tours offered. (More on Family Sundays here.)
It’s also relatively easy on the wallet. Adult admission is $18 (members get in free) and kids under 12 always get in free. Like many other museums, the SFMOMA has a number of days where admission is completely free for everyone: the first Tuesday of every month is free and three times a year they have Free Family Days (details here).
It’s worth the trip downtown, and this comes from the girl who crosses the Golden Gate Bridge to get to Anthro since I can’t stand going downtown.
(Piece in photograph: Sarah Cain, “Hello Darkness My Old Friend,” 2006; mixed media on paper, Source)
Here’s the thing… I’ve been lucky to be incredibly busy working on paintings for clients all across the country. But that means I haven’t had much time to do other projects to blog about. (Good problem to have, right?) Here’s the other thing… I miss doing those little projects. I love this print from Etsy shop Yellow Heart Art. It’s like a daily reminder to just make stuff.
Since my larger paintings take 10 to 12 hours (over a week or two) for me to complete, sometimes it’s nice to do short little projects that only take a few minutes to do. And when I have a dozen clients waiting patiently for me to finish their paintings (or simply share my color and design ideas), I feel guilty working on anything other than just those projects. But maybe I need to give myself a break every now and then to shift my creative energy to something else. Something little, frivolous or – heaven-forbid – completely unnecessary.
We’ll see if seeing the word “CREATE” will inspire me to do some quickie creative projects. In the meantime, maybe it will just keep me on track while I begin producing some exciting new things that I CAN’T WAIT to share with everyone.
(Yellow Heart Art Print, Etsy shop found via Handmade Success.)
I’ve been wanting to do some work on expanding my artistic repertoire for a while now, and since I committed to reducing the number of custom painting commissions I was taking on in the new year, it’s exactly the right time to start working toward what is next for Senn & Sons.
I spent the entire weekend with my friend Michelle – the owner of A Second Story, a new gallery and printmaking studio here in San Francisco – so she could help teach me the ins and outs of screen printing.
After studying printmaking at RISD and working to become a master printer in San Francisco, Michelle opened up A Second Story with a couple of partners to have a space to bring artists together to work, collaborate and show their work in their gallery space. She is the perfect person to act as my mentor as I begin to learn the process of screen printing, and her studio is the perfect space to make it happen. I’m a printmaking novice, so she had a pretty steep learning curve to deal with.
It’s definitely going to be a process to get to a point where I have editions of prints worthy of sharing, but for a first go at silk screening, I’m feeling pretty good about what’s possible, and very excited to get back into the studio with some new designs and ideas.
Here’s a look at some bits and pieces of my process.
I prepared transparencies…
Degreased (washed) screens, and dried them…
Added photo-sensitive emulsion to the screens, then burned my images onto them…
Hooked the screens up to this amazing four-color press…
And silk screened a whole lot of test prints…
Trimmed them to size…
And went home with a mind filled with new skills and ideas, a bag filled with test prints, and a long list of things to think about for the next round in the studio.
I can’t wait until I’m back in the studio trying out a few new things. There are so many possibilities with printmaking, especially screen printing, that my head is spinning with ideas and things I want to try. Hopefully I’ll have some fun new things to add to my shop this spring.
(A huge thanks to Michelle at A Second Story for her patience and guidance. I know there’s still a lot to learn, but I feel really great about how much we were able to accomplish in just a weekend.)
Wow, wow, wow! Check out this amazing nursery designed by one of my custom art clients. This creative mama-to-be created a gorgeous room with stars and stripes in red, light blue and navy blue for her lucky son or daughter (she’s going to be surprised!). I love that it’s a perfect room for either a boy or girl. The details she has scattered throughout the room are so sweet, and I absolutely love how her paintings look on the crisp white paneled wall.
I absolutely ADORE the powder blue and white striped ceiling. It’s quite possibly my favorite thing about the room. I know this type of work takes a whole lot of time, but the labor of love has such a massive impact, which makes it totally worth it!
If we’re talking about details, everything in this room was considered – down to the nicely coordinated liners in the baskets under her changing table. They are perfect with the quilt, which adds just a touch of classic Americana to the room.
Didn’t she do the MOST AMAZING job? I love this nursery for a little boy or a little girl and am so grateful for the opportunity to create paintings for it!
(A massive “THANKS!!!!” for sharing all the photos as well, I absolutely love seeing them and being able to share on the blog.)
What do you think, pretty great, right?